Journey Back To Strength 5

My Upper Body Power Training

Journey Back To Strength 5 - My Upper Body Power Training
This week, I am going to demonstrate an upper body workout. It is one day out of a 5-day split. And since I was finally able to complete it in its entirety, I thought I would share! For these five weeks, I have had to modify all of my workouts, because I simply couldn’t finish all of the exercises in one day. Until now, a week’s worth of training took me about ten days to complete.

I work with Dr. Layne Norton. He helps me with my nutrition and training, so this particular workout is based off of a routine he prepared for me. I have added or substituted exercises here and there and will explain the importance of doing so later in this blog. Even though this routine is not basic, I was able to make it easier by using lighter weights relative to anything I used to lift. That seemed to be the most obvious way to revamp my workouts, so I could actually get through them.

Going back to the basics, I am doing a split that is predominately a program for muscle hypertrophy, working each muscle group two times a week. Even if I am not killing it with heavy weights, I am minimally letting my body know that I need more muscle to get me through the workouts.

Essentials At My Gym

A part of my gym routine is that I take my printed workouts and attach them to a clipboard and bring them with me to the gym—nothing unusual about that. But there are lots of secondary activities going on above and beyond just working out at my gym. The first is the extensive pre-workout cleaning of equipment, dodging this one really loud guy (listen to the unedited video below) amongst other hyper vocally energized gym goers and the quest to locate and secure available machines.

Not to call anyone out, but this is what is really going on each night, so the clipboard and being prepared is key! You may have noticed the rather large headphones I wear in the pictures I post. I am aware they look extremely similar to the kind an air traffic controller is required to wear. Well, if you listen to the video below, you will have a better understanding as to why. (I do like my gym, however, voice volume in this gym is a little out of hand.) You may be combating distractions of your own, so I suggest proper planning.

Journey Back To Strength 5 -  My Upper Body Power Training

[vid file=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/AvaVideo.mp4″ image=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/AVA-JOURNEY-BACK-PART-5.jpg” width=”640″ height=”360″]

My Theory On Workout Routines

I use routines that I have written, combine routines from multiple sources and use my intuition to make choices about the ones that I know are challenging but also realistic. Hiring the best trainers in the world and implementing the newest training methods is great! The next level is to be mindful of what you are doing and why you are performing each exercise.

Journey Back To Strength 5 - My Upper Body Power TrainingI also believe that limited returns come from limited effort to reach and grow in the gym as well as all aspects of life. Applying that theory by trying something new in the gym is no different. I have seen physiques change—completely banishing weaker body parts—once this concept is understood and implemented. Stepping outside of the box and trying something new has also been a great way for me to conquer gym fears and get the most from my training. I force myself to try new exercises all of the time, even if it means standing there studying equipment to figure out how to use it. Uncomfortable? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

One way to educate yourself is to seek out a new piece of equipment in the gym and give it a try. If you are unsure about how to use it properly, look on the machine, write down the name and go home and Google it. That’s the extra effort that empowers you while training. By creating brand new and challenging workouts, you may discover this one change is exactly what you need to advance to the next level. That’s just a little insight into my personal approach to training.

To Summarize…

Workout Suggestion #1: Pre-plan the precise ways to combat the obstacles you face in your gym/life. For me, I needed to purchase great head phones.

Workout Suggestion #2: Google it or check out websites like this one – – for detailed exercises to be performed for each body part. Look the exercises up before hitting the gym, and carry the written instructions with you, if needed. You will look organized and prepared to do battle with your clipboard.

Workout Suggestion #3: Stay away from cruise control training. With just a few minutes each day, you can focus on learning something new that you can incorporate into your training. Doing so will help you grow both physically and mentally.

On to The Upper Body Routine

This workout is Upper Body Power Training. These are the exact exercises I did this week. There are many exercises that you can do instead to suit your goals, avoid aggravating injuries, or simply mix it up.

Back & Shoulders

Journey Back To Strength 5 - My Upper Body Power Training1. Seated Dumbbell Military Press
2 warm up sets with very light weight yielding 12-15 reps
3 sets of 4-6 reps
Future goal: 5 sets of 4-6 reps

2. Prone Incline Bench Dumbbell Rows (brace chest on slight incline)
2 warm up sets of 10-15 reps
3 sets of 5-8 reps

3. Assisted Pull-ups
3 sets of 8-12 reps

4. Lat Pull Downs
3 sets of 8-10 reps

5. Cable Rope Row – Cable pulley positioned at about shoulder height so that arms are parallel to floor. This exercise targets back and rear delts.
2 sets close grip rope row for 10 reps (arms stay close to the body)
2 sets rope high rows for 10 reps (bring elbows up and away from the body)

6. Single Arm Cable Row
2 sets of 8-10 reps


1. Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
2 warm up sets of 12-15 reps
3 sets 8-12 reps

2. Pec Deck Fly – Seat placement is low to target upper pecs.
3 sets 10-15 reps


Journey Back To Strength 5 - My Upper Body Power Training1. Alternating Dumbbell Curls
2 warm up sets using progressively heavier weight
3 sets 6-8 reps

2. Overhead Cable Rope Extension
2 warm up sets of 10 and 12 reps
3 sets of 6-8 reps

3. Barbell Preacher Curls
3 sets 8-10 reps

4. Triceps Press Downs – Alternating Grip
2 sets pronated (overhand) grip 8-10 reps
2 sets supinated (reverse/underhand) grip 8-10 reps

Weigh in Time!

10/9/2013 150.4
10/16/2013 149.1

Journey Back To Strength 5 - My Upper Body Power Training

Ava Cowan is an IFBB Figure Professional, a CPTS® and full time online coach and consultant for women of all fitness levels.

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